Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Where do you stand on leading from three cards (either from honor-third or from three small cards) in partner’s suit? Does it matter whether you are defending a suit or no-trump?

Board of the Rings, Bellingham, Wash.

In the old days, players would lead an honor from honor-third and top from three small. I hope those days are gone. The first is way too likely to cost a trick when declarer has a stopper such as king-jack third or ace-jack third. The second will confuse partner about the count in the suit — which may be critical to your partner. The honor position will normally be clearer than the count at the end of the first trick. This is why MUD (middle, up, down) is such a bad idea; it confuses both issues.

In a standard two-over-one system, dealer starts with one diamond. Say responder has game-forcing values with a four-card major and five clubs. When is it correct for responder to bid one of the major, and when is it correct for responder to bid two clubs?

Grey Gardens, Orange County, Calif.

You may not get unanimous agreement here, but my personal style as responder with clubs and a major is always to bid the minor unless you want to play the 4-3 major fit. So I might introduce a four-card major with three of the top four honors, but not a suit with one top honor. With something in between, I’d look at my overall strength and club quality. The better the hand, the more likely I’d be to bid clubs.

Do you like using computerized deals, and do you suppose that we receive wilder distributions with them than if we hand-dealt the boards? The suits never seem to split for me when using pre-dealt hands.

Marvelous Marvin, Harrisburg, Pa.

There is an underlying point in what you say, but you have drawn a false conclusion from it. Hand-dealt cards are not as thoroughly shuffled, and thus they tend to produce flatter shapes than they should. Additionally, I suspect that whenever suits don’t split, you remember it and give additional weight to that instance. I like the fact that everyone plays the same hands — often all around the country. We have computers to thank for that.

I am trying to learn the nuances of contract bridge bidding and would be grateful for an explanation of how transfer bids work, and when they apply.

Rubik’s Rube, Bay City, Mich.

Let’s keep it simple to start with. In response to a natural opening or an overcall of one or two no-trump, responder can use Stayman to locate a four-card major in his partner’s hand. Or he can transfer into his own major with five or more cards in that suit. The opener must complete the transfer, then responder will pass, bid a second suit, bid game or invite game. Details can be found at:

What would you advise on the following hand from a pairs tournament? As opener, holding ♠ A J-7-4-2,  K-6-5-4,  —, ♣ K-Q-9-4, I bid one spade, rebidding two hearts over my partner’s two-diamond response. Now came four clubs, which we play simply as a cue-bid, not necessarily shortage. Would you look for slam, and if so, how?

Hoity-Toity, Atlanta, Ga.

I can’t decide if I like this hand enough to cue-bid. I do have decent controls, but the void in diamonds and the weak hearts are negatives. If I did bid, I hate cue-bidding shortage in partner’s first suit, but anything else takes me past game. If I do make an effort, perhaps five hearts to focus on trumps might be best.

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